KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS —– Then there were five . . . after Luis Figo announced that he, too, wants to run to unseat Sepp Blatter as president of FIFA in May 29.
The former Sporting Lisbon, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Internazionale forward, pulled no punches in his candidacy declaration, saying that an internet search for FIFA matched it with the word “scandal.” He said: “Football deserves better.”
The one-time Portugal captain is confident he has the necessary five nominations from national football federations to vault the first hurdle which is a major step.
The nominations search is a a major problem for Frenchman David Ginola, the other former international winger who has thrown his hat into the ring.
Even former FIFA official Jerome Champagne, who has been promoting his ‘rebalancing’ manifest for a year, has admitted struggling to obtain the requisite quintet of support.
Hence, of Figo’s rivals, only Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, FIFA’s Asian vice-president, and Dutch FA chairman Michael Van Praag can be confident of becoming formal challengers to Blatter whose popularity with many associations has never been in doubt.
Indeed, Figo’s playing record suggests he may be a more popular European candidate with UEFA president Michel Platini than Van Praag. Last August Platini insisted that the game needed former players in leading roles, rather than administrators.
Speaking about his campaign, Figo said: “Football has given me so much during my life and I want to give something back to the game. I look at the reputation of FIFA right now and I don’t like it. Football deserves better.
“In recent weeks, months, and even years, I have seen the image of FIFA deteriorate and as I speak to many people in football – to players, managers and Association Presidents – so many of those people have told me that something has to be done.
“Throughout my career I have worked at all levels of the game. This has given me a unique insight and understanding that I feel can enhance the discussion about the future of FIFA and the future of football.”
Figo made 577 appearances for Sporting, Barcelona, Madrid and Inter and captained Portugal at the 2006 World Cup during an international career in which he won a national record 127 caps.
‘Campaign for change’
A statement issued on behalf of Figo, who has served on the UEFA Football Committee from 2011–2015, said he would “run a campaign for change, focusing on better governance, more transparency, increased solidarity and the protection of true football values. A detailed programme for positive reform will be unveiled in the coming weeks.”
Figo added, “I am convinced that FIFA’s position as the governing body of world football is absolutely vital. For this to be preserved it is essential that we see change at the top and we set FIFA on a new course which is all about football and less about politics.
“This is why I am looking forward to getting on the road in the coming weeks, to explain in detail my programme and my vision. My aim is to nourish my plans with the insights and ideas of the national associations, to listen to their concerns and to provide a forum for a new approach to FIFA which is focussed on FIFA’s stakeholders rather than just FIFA.
“Football runs through my veins. I am a man of football, inside out and I am ready to help bring about change”.
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